When I showed Hieu Nguyen’s “Buffet Etiquette” to my high school juniors, one of my students stood up, cheered loudly, and exclaimed, “He got that so right!”. Given that the student is one of my quietest, it only emphasized the power in Nguyen’s words. The connection he’s able to build with his readers and listeners is impressive, and it has everything to do with the honesty in everything he says.
In This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Publishing), Nguyen channels his inner Sylvia Plath, with his ability to mix beautiful imagery, heavy metaphors, and blunt honesty. His use of line breaks to capture the perfect pause is impressive. Given the uncomfortable nature of some of his pieces, his style – much like that of Plath – seems to let you know that while he’s been through the wringer, he’s okay, and it’s okay if you’ve been there too.
Hieu Nguyen tackles issues of molestation, the struggles of coming out, death, family issues, and intense sexual experiences, and does so while writing one of the strongest collections that Write Bloody Publishing has to offer. It’s accessible, it’s harrowing, it’s beautifully crafted, well-paced, and above everything else, it just feels honest and real.